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Towards a blue-print for smart agribusiness investments

October 23, 2015

Agriculture could become a real engine for economic growth in the ACP with the right enabling policies, increased investments from both public and private sources and strong public-private partnerships. This was a key assertion made by participants at the conference on ‘Agribusiness investments in partnership with farmers’ organisations in ACP countries,’ held at Expo Milan on 14 and 15 October 2015.

The two-day event was organised by the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission, in partnership with the African Union Commission, the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Pan African Farmers' Organisation (PAFO), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP) and CTA.

MHA with CommissionersFrom left to right: Mr Francis Fay, Head of Unit at the DG Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Commission, Mr Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Ms Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union, and Michael Hailu, CTA Director.

More than 150 people participated in the event, including representatives from the agribusiness sector and farmers' organisations in EU and ACP countries, international organisations, development agencies and NGOs. 

In addition to technical support and facilitation of AU and ACP speakers and participants, CTA organised a technical workshop on ‘Facilitating trade and market access for agricultural products through improved organisation of value chain actors’ that presented and discussed three representative cases studies from ACP countries:

Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, Ethiopia;
Women in Business Development Inc, Samoa;
• Partnership between Women Smallholder Famers in Kenya and Finlays.

Facilitated by Mr Yihenew Zewdie, Senior Technical Advisor for Policies and Markets, the discussion session raised a number of key questions, including:

  • How can the organisation of agricultural value chains be supported to ensure equitable and profitable engagement of smallholder producers?
  • What measures should be put in place to enhance smallholders’ access to regional and global markets?
  • How can smallholder farmers and the domestic private sector be positioned to play a bigger and more active role in agricultural value chains?
  • How can producers teach each other skills and capacity to make farming more sustainable in the long term across commodities and to ensure these skills don’t leave rural areas?
  • How can farmers’ organisations really formalise their continuity?
  • How can farmers’ organisations be empowered to engage with key stakeholders in the value chains, particularly for finance, logistics, etc?

Some of the answers to these questions provided key insights for forging transformative partnerships between farmers’ organisations, agribusiness, financial institutions and technical organisations in the context of ACP-EU cooperation.

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Agribusiness milan

On the second day, CTA director Michael Hailu chaired a High-Level Seminar on the ‘Way forward to a common blueprint for agribusinesses investments in partnership with farmers’ organisations in ACP countries.’ The event, which took place at the Pavilion of the European Commission at Expo Milan 2015, was webstreamed and accompanied by a rich social media debate with hashtag #agribiz4farmers.

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Panelists included, amongst others, Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union, Ishmael Sunga, Chief Executive Officer, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU), Mr Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Development and Cooperation, Mr Stephen Mintah, Chairman of COLEACP, Ms Marike De Peña, Chair of the Board of Fairtrade International Mr Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, and Mr John Clarke, Deputy Director General, Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development of the European Union.

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